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About the NC Alternative Crops and Organics Program

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Dr. Jeanine Davis

My name is Jeanine Davis and I am an associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University. My research and extension programs are dedicated to the development of sustainable and organic production systems for herbs, vegetables, and a wide variety of specialty crops. Here is a short video on what I do in my Extension role.

The purpose of this portal is to provide access to up-to-date, practical information on the production and marketing of these crops and to keep you informed about the current projects in my program and maintain easy access to what we learned from past projects.

The current research projects my staff and I are involved in are scattered across two research stations and several farms in western North Carolina. Our offices, lab, and greenhouses are located at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River. There we have our hops breeding project, led by Dr. Luping Qu. We have two hop yards there planted with popular commercial hop varieties and the new breeding lines. At the Mills River station we also have research and demonstration plots on forest farming with native woodland medicinals, bloodroot, and ramps, and propagation studies and replicated production studies on Chinese medicinal herbs. We also have a fiber hemp project in collaboration with Dr. Lokendra Pal where we are looking at different varieties for use in creating new plastic alternative products..

We also have field research at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville.There we have more of the replicated Chinese medicinal herb studies and the fiber hemp project replicated. We also have two Black Perigord truffle orchards (one is producing).

We are in our last year of a multi-state project (TOMI) to breed tomatoes specifically for organic farmers. This year we have three on-farm trials to test a variety developed in the project on a commercial scale.

In addition to our research, we conduct many educational and Extension programs in the form of conferences, workshops (virtual and in-person), and field days. A multi-state Extension program we are heavily involved in is the Appalachian Forest Farmer Coalition. Research scholar Margaret Bloomquist is a lead organizer for the WNC Medicinal Herb Growers and its subgroup, the Woodland Stewards. All of our events, publications, news updates, and articles can be found on our New Crops & Organics website and the NC Extension Hemp website. We make good use of social media, too, so follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

The NC Farmlink Program is lead by Dr. Noah Ranells and Stephen Bishop with assistance from Hannah Bundy. Noah is the program director for the eastern part of the state and Stephen is the program director for the western part of the state. NC FarmLink connects farmers, landowners, and service providers across North Carolina to farm transition resources, assists new and aspiring farmers looking to transition into farming, and assists older farmers with succession planning. NC FarmLink offers a variety of tools and resources, including the NC Farmland Opportunity Database, which can be used to help connect farm seekers and landowners. They publish a monthly email newsletter and offer free consultations to farmers and landowners.

Our Team

Photo of Margaret Bloomquist

Margaret Bloomquist

Research Scholar

Responsible for the medicinal herbs, forest farming, bloodroot, Chinese herbs, hemp, and organic studies. One of the leaders of the WNC Medicinal Herb Growers Group and it’s subgroup, the Woodland Stewards. Associate director of the Appalachian Forest Farmer Coalition. Frequent speaker on all the above. Margaret has been a valued member of our team since 2012.

Photo of Luping Qu

Dr. Luping Qu

Research Specialist and Breeder

Responsible for the hops breeding project and provides support for other field research. Luping has been an important member of our team since 2013.

Photo of Katherine Learn

Katherine Learn

Research Associate

Katie began working for us in 2018 with our hemp studies and earned her Master’s degree on organic tomatoes. She took a year off to work in another program and returned to us in 2024. She now has responsibility for the truffle project, works on many other studies in the program, and writes the newsletter.

Photo of Mary Saunders Bulan

Dr. Mary Saunders Bulan

Extension Assistant

Mary started in our program in 2024 and is working on many forest farming projects and has responsibility for many of the extension and outreach aspects of the program.

Photo of Lillian Derry

Lillian Derry

Temporary Research Specialist

Lilly started in our program in 2024 and comes to us with plenty of plant experience and enthusiasm to learn more. She works on most of the projects in the program and with Mary on social media.

Photo of Aaron Perez

Aaron Perez

Temporary Research Specialist

Aaron started with our program in 2024 and is a forester by training. We are so excited to have his expertise in our program! He works on many projects in the program and often assists Luping in the hop yards.

Updated on 6/12/2024 by Jeanine Davis (with assistance from Brandon Hopper!)

Written By

Jeanine Davis, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionDr. Jeanine DavisExtension Specialist, Herbs / Organics / Specialty Crops / Vegetables / Hemp Call Dr. Jeanine Email Dr. Jeanine Horticultural Science
NC State Extension, NC State University
Page Last Updated: 22 hours ago
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